Harold Tate, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, announced plans this week to resign after almost a decade leading the organization.
Tate, whose career also included nearly 30 years with city government as an urban planner and project manager, was the first executive director chosen for the non-profit authority when it was launched by the city government in 2001 with the goal of revitalizing downtown.
"I feel downtown is in a very positive state right now," Tate said. "If I'm going to move on, the best time to do it is when things are doing well, and there's been a lot of progress made."
That progress includes the building of more downtown residential areas and the completion of a streetscape project to beautify key areas.
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"People want to be downtown," he said. "It's a destination again.
"It's a place to live and it's definitely a place to play, so people want to come down and eat and come down to the concerts, and just come out downtown and hang out."
Tate said his successor will face issues like the struggles of the condos that have sprung up around the area.
"The condo market is in bad shape," he said. "It's not because there aren't people out there who want to buy them; it's just that financing them is very difficult."
Tate's exit comes after the announcement recently that longtime Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau president David Lord is retiring next year.
"If you look at the accomplishments of those two individuals, I think we've been very fortunate and blessed for their leadership," said Commerce Lexington president Bob Quick.
Regarding Tate, he added, "I don't think you'll find a person with more passion to make Central Kentucky and downtown a better place than Harold Tate."
Tate said he's not sure what he'll do next, but "I've been in this position for 10 years in May and am at the point of being 60 on my next birthday, so I thought maybe it's time for me to do something else in my final working time."
He said he expects to stay on through March or April to help prepare the next fiscal year's budget of the small organization, which consists of himself, one other full-timer, two part-timers and an intern.